How to access eBooks and audiobooks at your library with the Libby app

  • You may just pick up whatever appeals to you in the bookcase for new items at your library. Or you may already use the internet to place holds on and renew hard-copy library books. Once you either use a Kindle app or an Amazon Kindle device, you have many more options, but you need to use something other than your library’s own website. That’s because libraries use both the 3M mechanism and the Overdrive one to access available content and allow the material to be checked out.
  • Kindle ebooks can be loaded directly onto your device or app only if it’s in Overdrive format. 3M doesn’t work for Amazon. So, for items you want to read using the Kindle regime, and for audiobooks, you need to use the Libby app. When you first download it to your iPhone or another smartphone, you’ll be helped to attach the app to both your library card and your Amazon account. Thereafter, you use the Libby app to search what’s available in the library for immediate checkout or to put on hold. In Libby, you will only see the books from your library that can be sent directly to your Kindle.
  • There are two sets of “shelves” in the Libby app. On the left is your Library, where you can search for books and place holds on them or borrow them. On the right are the shelves for your Holds, your Borrows (the books you’ve taken out), and your Loans (the active area for handling the books you’ve taken out).
  • Sometimes, when you look for a book, it’s ready to borrow immediately. If so, the top line will say Borrow. Tap on Borrow, then on Send to Kindle. That will take directly to the Amazon website where you can direct it to your Kindle or Kindle app as you choose.
  • If the book is not available, you can place it on hold. They’ll email you when your name comes up. Then you follow the above steps. The New York Public Library permits a maximum of 15 holds at a time. One nice feature of Libby is that, unlike the NYPL website, the holds are listed from soonest available to last available. Libby even gives you an estimate of approximately how long it will be before the item is available.
  • Once you’ve borrowed the book, it shows up in Loans, another shelf reachable on the bottom right of the Libby app. There you can check on how much time remains in your lending period and renew it if nobody else has it on hold.
  • For some quirky reason, audiobooks checked out thru Libby can be listened to either in the Libby app itself or in the Overdrive app if you prefer that arrangement. The players have slightly different features. Neither is as good as the Audible app. Unfortunately, even tho the Libby app is coordinated with the Kindle software for loading books into your apps or devices, it does not load audiobooks into the Audible software. Too bad.

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